Newtown massacre: Barack Obama plans to reinstate assault weapons ban as retail giants suspend rifle sales after backlash
White House says it will support weapons ban while ‘heartbroken’ NRA breaks silence
As the backlash against America's lax gun laws continued to grow after the Newtown tragedy, Wal-Mart announced yesterday that it was suspending the sale of models of the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle similar to the one police say Adam Lanza used last Friday.
The decision by America's most recognised discount retailer followed a similar move by another chain, Dick's Sporting Goods, to suspend sales of all hunting rifles. At the same time, one of the country's largest asset management firms, Cerberus Capital, said it would sell its stake in Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster, lending weight to the sense that patience with years of inertia on gun control may have snapped.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said last night that President Barack Obama wanted to reinstate an assault weapons ban. He said the President was "actively supportive" of a Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein's plan to introduce a bill on the first day of the next Congress and would also consider curbs on high-capacity ammunition and loopholes.
Mr Obama has told members of his cabinet to come forward with concrete steps to reduce public access to guns, which among other things could include reinstating a ban on assault weapons that had been in place for 10 years before it expired in 2004. The task of co-ordinating that effort will go to Vice-President Joe Biden, according to reports.
Last night the National Rifle Association broke its silence on the shootings. The powerful lobby group issued a statement that read: "We were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown
"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
Momentum after the Newtown tragedy, which saw 28 people killed including 20 children aged five and six, the killer and his mother, is also coming from moderate Democrats in the US Senate who, in spite of having strong ties to the gun lobby, have stepped forward this week to voice their support for a review of the laws. These include the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a long-time supporter of the NRA.
"We ought to feel guilty," Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman said in the Senate yesterday. "We have failed to fulfil what seemed to be our most natural responsibility, which is to protect the safety and lives our children." Despite these moves, anecdotal evidence suggests that in some parts of the US the shooting has increased demand for guns. Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, told the Huffington Post: "This tragedy is pushing sales through the roof. It's like putting gasoline on a fire."
Among clients for whom Cerberus makes investments are the pension funds of public workers, including teachers. Indeed, California State Teachers' Retirement System said on Monday that it was reviewing its relationship with Cerberus because of the stake it held in Freedom Group. But there may also be a far more personal reason behind Cerberus's decision: the father of its founder, Stephen Feinberg, is a resident of Newtown.
There will be no real debate in Congress until next year, and even then many members will be assessing what kind of political risk will come with taking on the NRA. So far there have been no Republicans among those senators speaking out.
It was not clear for how long the sales suspensions at Wal-Mart and Dick's would last. "Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide," Dick's said in a statement.
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
People are criticising Fifa World Cup sponsors with corrupt corporate logos
Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
British tourists complain impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Fifa corruption live: Sebb Blatter warns 'more bad news may follow' as he clings to power
Skull found in Spain could be the world's first-ever murder victim
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...